Kaposi’s sarcoma


Kaposi’s sarcoma is a type of cancer that originates in the cells lining the blood and lymphatic vessels. It manifests as distinctive purplish lesions, which can appear on various parts of the body such as the legs, feet, face, genital area, mouth, and lymph nodes. In severe cases, it can also affect the digestive tract and lungs.

The primary cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma is infection with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). In healthy individuals, HHV-8 infection typically remains asymptomatic as the immune system effectively regulates and suppresses its activity. However, individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or recipients of organ transplants taking immunosuppressant drugs, are at higher risk.

HIV-infected individuals are particularly susceptible to Kaposi’s sarcoma due to immune system damage, which allows HHV-8 to multiply and form characteristic lesions. Organ transplant recipients who are prescribed immune system-suppressing medications to prevent organ rejection also bear a certain risk of HHV-8 infection, although the disease generally manifests with milder symptoms compared to individuals with AIDS.

Classic Kaposi’s sarcoma primarily affects older men of Eastern European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern descent. This form progresses slowly and generally causes few complications.

Equatorial Africa is home to another type of Kaposi’s sarcoma that affects people of all ages.